Are Evangelicals a Threat to the Military?

Our alarm clock is set to NPR, so when Julie’s alarm went off this morning and stayed on and on and on, I heard the strangest report. It was the BBC show, which I love because the host is so abrasive to his guests. If you haven’t heard it, you need to. It’s especially gut-wrenching when the interviewee has broken English.

Guest: “And the eh Americans eh, eh”
BBC: “But Sir, you can’t possibly be making such a ludicrous point!”
Guest: “Oh, but I eh, eh”
BBC: “Well that’s preposterous!”

The poor guy is hardly out of the gate by the time the BBC host walls him in. Anyway, back to the strange report I heard. I couldn’t dig it up this morning. If anyone finds the audio clip or transcript, please drop it in the comments. So here’s my summary:

Somebody is very concerned that “fundamentalist evangelical Christians” are infiltrating the Pentagon and the US military. He said this group poses the same kind of threat as Al Qaida and other terrorist groups because of their apocalyptic view of human history that sends them marching towards Armageddon.

He then proceeded to string together a collection barely related circumstances that were supposed to be convincing and ended by comparing “fundamentalist evangelicals” with Nazi fascists.

Does that sound a little inflammatory to anyone???? Sheesh.

I don’t even know if dialogue is possible with such a person who relies on rhetoric and sensationalism to grind his ax. But I’ll at least pose some counterpoints.

1. Most evangelicals are not fundamentalists and many evangelicals are not longing for Armageddon and rivers of blood (this guy actually made Christians sound blood-thirsty!). Even the weirdest fundamentalist (who are not quite the same as more moderate evangelicals) are not willing to kill innocent people or wage war, they simply want God to return . . . and the problem is they believe that God is going to kill LOTS of people. I don’t believe that, but there you have it.

2. There is a place for legitimate concern when American nationalism becomes the Christian thing to do. Christians have a place serving in every area of America, but not as state sanctioned officials. America is not a Christian nation. There is not a consensus among Evangelicals on this one, but there is a very strong movement in the church that aims to separate the church from its privileged place in society. No religion should receive special treatment by the government.

3. One of the points this guy brought up was the mission statement of one Christian ministry among the US military. The statement was something like this:

“A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit, living with a passion for God and compassion for the entire military society. The essence of the OCF Vision and Purpose can be communicated succinctly by the following slogan:

Christian Officers Exercising Biblical Leadership to Raise up a Godly Military”

He emphasized the “ambassadors” word and the “empowered” word when he read it. He then jumped in the Nazi/fascist comparison.

Now I’m not terribly familiar with these groups, but I’ll bet their focus, based on their materials and knowing a bit about Christians, is on cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s really the core of evangelicalism. We also believe in sharing this with others, but how one goes about this can be debated and is not agreed on across the evangelical board.

I don’t think there’s anything to worry about in this statement. This group is not trying to harness the power of the US and it’s military in order to bring about Armageddon. The goal is to point soldiers toward God, which can only mean good things for our military: a strong moral compass and the inner peace of God’s Spirit. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit should bring about peace and wisdom, that’s part of the Spirit’s role.

I’ve said enough. I hope to someday find a link to this report because I believe it is based on misunderstandings and inflammatory rhetoric. Now that we’ve silenced that critic, let’s all start campaigning for the Republicans for ’08 in order to start more wars and bring the world to an end . . .